Category Archives: Featured Stories

Fulton school district staff brainstorms ways to boost graduation rate

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

With a focus on student achievement, Fulton City School District teachers and support staff recently met to discuss factors that contribute to students meeting graduation requirements.

With this was discussion of boosting the graduation rate.

The fall staff development day provided an opportunity for school personnel to examine some of the root causes as to why some students do not finish high school in four years.

Teachers, guidance counselors, school-home liaisons and special education counselors from kindergarten through 12th grade studied student data in a comprehensive way.

“We wanted to look and identify with our student support staff … just what were some of the barriers to kids completing (high school),” said Geri Geitner, Fulton district director of student support programs.

“So we brainstormed that and then we looked at specific kids from the time they entered our district all the way through. We had all of their information and data, and identified for each kid where we started to see things fall apart.,” she said.

A wide variety of factors played roles in student achievement, according to the data collected during the staff development day.

Academic, behavioral, social, emotional, family and attendance issues were all identified as factors that influenced the outcomes.

Geitner said staff members not only looked at when those issues started to surface, but they also discussed some of the preventive strategies that are working for students facing similar circumstances.

“We looked at kids with similar risk factors that had graduated and (examined) what made them successful and how they were able to overcome barriers and complete their high school graduation requirement,” Geitner said.

“We looked at the kids who didn’t pass Regents exams and attendance was really the common factor,” said G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.

She noted that students who missed 15 days or more were among those who had the most difficulty.

Another subgroup, those who are categorized as having low socioeconomic status, also struggled to earn a diploma on time, Parkhurst said.

To address some of the issues identified as risk factors, the district has conducted thorough training and development using the work of renowned educators Eric Jensen and Ruby Payne.

“We’ve done extensive professional development around both of those researchers and have focused on strategies for implementing some of their (recommendations) school wide and district wide,” Geitner said.

In addition to holding staff development days and utilizing the research developed by respected educators, the district has implemented its own strategies to boost the graduation rate as well.

“We’re really trying to implement the response to intervention framework … to monitor progress, identify students who are struggling and trying to put corrections in place as soon as those challenges come to light,” Geitner said.

Parkhurst noted there are also credit recovery and grade recovery options for students who have fallen behind.

Teachers offer assistance after school and there are tutoring options available to help students stay on track.

While there are plenty of options available to help students succeed, one of the more unique strategies was implemented last year with the introduction of college and career readiness portfolios.

The electronic portfolios began with seventh-graders in 2012-13 and serve as a goal-setting initiative.

“It gets them thinking about their long-term goals earlier on … engaging them in that conversation,” Geitner said. “Each year the students have a different section of the portfolio to complete. (It includes) objectives and information about career and college options.

“They can print it out and use it for their own benefit if they were to apply for a job, to enter the military or to apply for college, so they can use them for their long-term planning,” she said.

With an intense focus on student achievement and improving the graduation rate, Fulton school administrators are confident the right strategies are in place and staff development days serve a key role in helping the district meets it goals.

“One of the biggest benefits (of the recent staff development day) was that it was a K through 12 approach, so that kind of collaboration was very beneficial,” Geitner said.

“We gained a lot of insight from the elementary and middle school staff to supplement what the secondary and high school staff knew about the kids when they were here, so that was really helpful,” she said. “It also helped us focus on areas where we could continue to improve and grow our transitions, not just between junior high and high school, but transitions all the way along.”

Site-based teams in Fulton school district talk student improvement

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Aligned with the Fulton City School District’s shared decision making model and in conjunction with efforts to maintain a continuous cycle of improvement, district officials and the board of education once again hosted a district-wide meeting for members of each school building’s site-based team.

Site-based teams from each school building are comprised of parents, community members, students, teachers and/or administrators.

Each team meets regularly throughout the school year and then participates once a year in a district-wide meeting to discuss efforts that support improvement and student achievement as well as enhance the school and community connection.

Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch was joined by Betsy Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment, for a “state of the school district” address during the annual meeting.

The pair reviewed student performance, the programs and offerings available to students in the district and information about the school improvement plans developed for each school building by the stakeholders of that building.

Attendees also discussed college and career readiness and what that looks like at each building and at each grade level.

“We used to say ‘our mission is to get students to graduate.’ It’s so much more than that now,” Conners said during the meeting. “We are preparing them for life, a career, and more,” she added.

Tied to the college and career readiness theme during the meeting was a discussion about the Common Core Learning Standards.

“The best thing about Common Core is that it forces kids to think, debate and discuss. It’s not about regurgitating material,” Conners said as she spoke about the need to educate students today for careers that do not even exist yet.

District officials also talked about the 2014-15 budget process and what to anticipate in the year ahead in relation to state and federal funds to support education and sustain current offerings and opportunities for students.

Since the implementation of the shared decision-making process, the input, thoughts, questions, and ideas from school site-based teams have led to changes and improved opportunities for all students in the Fulton district.

For more information about the site based-team at your child’s school, call the building principal.

Sorbello onion farm in Granby hit by fire

A huge fire in Granby has destroyed a packing, sorting, grading and storage building at the Sorbello and Sons onion farm.

Morris Sorbello said he was called at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday about the fire. Sorbello is an Oswego County legislator representing the Granby area and had been in Oswego for a legislature committee meeting.

“The most important thing is no one was hurt,” he said Wednesday morning.

Sorbello said he lost most of this year’s onion crop that was being stored in the building — about 115,000 50-pound units. The building, which is actually three buildings hooked together by tunnels, also is a loss.

He said firefighters still are at the scene Wednesday morning and the fire is still smoldering.

He also lost equipment in the building used for the sorting and grading of onions. He is insured.

An exact cause of the fire has not been determined, but Sorbello said it may have been electrical. He said his son had been in the building at about 4 p.m. and had hooked up an electrical charger to a machine and that may have malfunctioned.

Porky & Buddy explain ‘litter training’

Dear Porky & Buddy,

I am planning to adopt an eight-week-old kitten soon.

She will be my first pet ever and I am wondering how I go about litter training her? I helped with the toilet training of my kids when they were toddlers and I know how stressful it can be. I don’t want to make any mistakes.



Dear John,

First of all thanks for adopting your new pet. We love to hear that, especially at this time of year when every pet wants a home for the holidays! (Dear readers, Get the hint???)

Now to answer your question — all fanatical cat lovers know the secret process for litter training a kitten and we are going to share it, but only with you, just because we appreciate your decision to adopt.

Here it is … First put on your favorite slippers and nice comfy robe. Find a good book to read, get a plate of cookies and pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or whatever, and then sit back in your favorite chair and … DON’T DO ANYTHING!

Seriously, we have to laugh when we hear people talking about “litter training” a cat. Using litter, or any other available substance, like dirt or sand, to scratch in and then cover up their waste is instinctive for cats.

Tiny kittens that can barely walk yet will do it, (although sometimes a really tiny kitten will need some prompting).

By the time it is eight weeks old all any cat needs is the litter itself. (There are sometimes other health related problems that affect litter use, but not because the cat doesn’t know how, and that’s a different question.)

The more important issue with bringing a kitten home for the first time is to make sure that she has an opportunity to adjust to her new home without becoming too stressed or frightened.

The best way to do that is to set up a “safe room” where she can go when she first comes home, an enclosed area, like a spare bedroom or bathroom, where she can easily find her food, her bed, her toys (lots of them), and, yes, her litter.

She should stay there and you should visit frequently until she seems comfortable enough to explore farther into the house.

For some kittens that could take a week — for others it will take 30 seconds — but that time to adjust can be critical to your future success with bonding with your new best friend, especially if she is a little shy.

So good luck and tell all of your friends the Oswego County Humane Society has lots of handsome, elegant, interesting and “litter trained” cats available for adoption. You can see them at

For the entire month of December, adopt one cat more than six months old and the adoption fee is only $50. Adopt another best buddy for him or her and the  adoption fee is only $25 for the second cat.

The adoption fee for all cats over one year old is only $25 — not because they’re worth less — but only because they need homes more.

Speaking of cat litter, bring a bag of scoopable litter or a bag of dry cat or kitten food (or $5) to the American Foundry from 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 21 for the third annual Holiday fundraiser for the Oswego County Humane Society. The night will feature the Billionaires with Tom Ciappa. A party for the animals with the party animals!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Call 207-1070, email or visit for more information.

ENT docs obtain new sinus surgery equipment

Oswego Hospital has installed state-of-the art, award winning navigation technology for use during sinus surgeries

The hospital’s new Ear, Nose and Throat doctors say this new advanced equipment is the best available.

“The hospital has made a significant investment in this equipment which operates similar to a GPS devise allowing Dr. Pence and myself to make informed decisions in real time when in the operating room,” said board-certified ENT Dr. Nicholas Groch.

Groch and Dr. Melanie Pence, who is also a board-certified ENT, recently opened Lakeshore ENT in the Oswego Health Center.

“This equipment is simply the best available and with this navigation system we are able to provide excellent ENT care to our patients,” Pence said. “Area residents needing this level of sinus surgery no longer need to leave their community.”

The equipment, called a Fusion ENT Navigation System, helps to reduce the risk of complications and can lead to a quicker recovery. The equipment’s associated irrigation system was the winner of a Medical Devise Excellence Award.

The two ENTs are familiar with this new technology as they have used it for many years. During their previous ENT positions, they helped to trial the equipment at a sinus center of excellence in Toledo, Ohio.

The two ENT physicians have a joint practice providing a wide range of services including hearing and balance testing, allergy testing, sinus surgery, pediatric ear infections, snoring and sleep apnea, thyroidectomies, skin cancer excisions and cosmetic procedures.

Both are board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck/Facial Plastic Surgery.

To provide additional services, Audiologist Karah Gottschalk has joined the practice to conduct hearing balance testing and dispense hearing aids.

The new physicians can be contacted by calling Lakeshore ENT at 349-5828.

Rural Health Network of Oswego County partners recognized for work

As part of the celebration of National Rural Health Day, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health recognized two partners of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County for their accomplishment and several of its members for their outstanding work.

Northern Oswego County Health Services was recognized for its effort to integrate two primary care practices of Oswego County’s largest human services organization, Oswego County Opportunities, and three primary care practices of the Oswego County’s sole hospital, Oswego Health.

The three partnered on an initiative labeled “Preserving the Oswego County Primary Care Safety Net,” to respond to the closing of a major insurance company sponsored practice in Central Square and the financial viability of the five combined practices of Oswego County Opportunities and Oswego Health.

Designed to restore primary care services to the Central Square area and to operate the five services under Northern Oswego County Health Services scope provided the five services with greater financial security and stability and would prove pivotal to maintaining the primary care safety net in Oswego County.

The state funding Northern Oswego County Health Services was able to procure made it possible to retain the entire provider complement previously employed among the practices and significantly increase access by recruiting an additional eight primary providers to the practice in 2013.

In recognition of their accomplishments the collaborative of Northern Oswego County Health Services, Inc, Oswego Health and Oswego County Opportunities Rural Health Network of Oswego County was honored with the Outstanding Rural Health Program award.

“We are humbled to have been chosen for this prestigious award,” said Danielle Wert, coordinator of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County.  “The establishment of the “Preserving the Oswego County Primary Care Safety Net, initiative and the combined efforts to make it a success is remarkable.  They truly earned this worthy recognition.”

Wert also said in addition to receiving the Outstanding Rural Health Program Award, several of its member providers were also honored for their work.

Ellen Holst, senior director of Health & Nutrition at OCO; Jeff Coakley, vice president for Strategic Services at OH; and Dan Dey, chief executive officer of Northern Oswego County Health Services were recognized at the New York State Association for Rural Health’s annual luncheon as Outstanding Rural Health Care Workers.

“We are fortunate to have a very robust Rural Health Network in Oswego County.  We have 24 active Network member organizations, representing virtually every aspect of healthcare, that are committed to improving the delivery of and access to quality and affordable health care in Oswego County and contiguous areas,” said Wert.

Oswego County health clinics the week of Dec. 9

The Oswego County Health Department offers a variety of services to all residents of Oswego County, including preventive health services, certified home health care, long-term home health care, certified hospice, and a maternal and child health program.

Walk-in influenza clinics are held weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego for people age 19 and older. No appointment is needed; walk-ins are welcome.

Children’s flu vaccine is available from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday in Oswego, and from 9 to 11 a.m. the third Tuesday of every month at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski. The cost is $37 for the inactivated vaccine (the shot) and $43 for the flu-mist (nasal vaccine).

Patients with private insurance, Managed Medicaid, Managed Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Part B should bring their benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.  No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

The following services will be offered during the week of Dec. 9 at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego.

** Immunization Clinic: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., walk-in clinic.

** Pregnancy Testing: Free pregnancy testing is available. Call 349-3391 to schedule an appointment.

** Sexually Transmitted Disease Testing and Treatment Services: Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

** HIV Counseling and Testing Service:  Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

Immunization clinics are held every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 70 Bunner St, Oswego, and the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

For more information about public health services, contact the County Health Department, weekdays, phone 349-3547 or (800) 596-3200, ext. 3547.

State program helps SUNY Oswego with education, economic development

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego is taking advantage of the economic development and educational opportunities presented by the governor’s recently launched START-UP NY program.

It has selected three campus properties to showcase to businesses, meeting with prospects and faculty, and beginning to assemble an advisory council.

The work this fall also has included aligning the college’s core academic competencies with potential business interests.

“Linkages with Oswego’s academic strengths will be critical to building our START-UP NY partnerships,” college President Deborah F. Stanley said. “In a successful partnership, SUNY Oswego and the company will work together in a key area of the college’s competency for mutual, complementary benefit.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October formally launched START-UP NY, providing major incentives for qualifying businesses to relocate, start up or expand in this state through affiliations with colleges and universities.

Businesses that qualify will have the opportunity to operate free of state and local taxes on or near academic campuses, and their employees will pay no state or local personal income taxes for 10 years.

The key qualification: The company must add new jobs, providing an economic lift to the surrounding community that does not endanger nearby competitors.

‘Open for business’

Stanley has selected three sites for tax-free zones to attract new and expanding businesses to the college campus: the Romney parking lot overlooking State Route 104; Mackin Hall, the east-campus connector building between two residence halls on Sheldon Avenue; and the lake-view tennis courts and adjacent parking lot on Rudolph Road at its west-campus intersection with Iroquois Trail, the campus ring road.

There is also potential to add properties to those selections within a mile of the Oswego campus, SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center and SUNY Oswego Metro Center in Syracuse.

“We’re open for business,” said Pamela Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development. She noted that the college has met with seven business prospects to date.

One prospect, said Pamela Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development, is a global company with a cutting-edge technology focus. Representatives recently toured campus facilities, meeting with faculty in software engineering, electrical and computer engineering and human-computer interaction.

“Everyone involved came away impressed with the commercial as well as the educational possibilities,” Caraccioli said. “It was exciting to see the potential of a campus-business relationship.”

Caraccioli plans to travel to additional colleges and universities in and out of state to see and learn about campus-business partnership programs similar to START-UP NY.

“We also want to focus on how these campuses have lured international interest,” Caraccioli said. “We are proud to nurture a global focus at SUNY Oswego.”

A key pillar of SUNY Oswego’s strategic plan is global engagement, exemplified by such programs as the Global Laboratory for undergraduate research internationally, scores of opportunities for study abroad, on-campus experiences such as Collaborative Online International Learning courses and School of Business and Office of Business and Community Relations advisory roles with area companies aiming to do business internationally.

Collaborative relationships

SUNY Oswego has identified a 25-member Economic Development Advisory Council, with an eye toward cross-campus as well as cross-sector community representation.

SUNY Oswego for years has worked with businesses in the region to build partnerships in a variety of ways, such as cooperative education, internships, research support, and advisory boards for programs.

“Empire State Development is the clearinghouse for all qualifications for the tax-free zones,” Caraccioli said. “We are the clearinghouse in terms of fit. A business proposal must be the right fit for our campus in order to move forward.”

The college has provided business prospects with a list of core academic strengths in the following categories: computational sciences and technological innovation; accounting, finance and marketing in undergraduate and MBA programs; communications and culture; international education experiences and global issues; aging and health; the natural and built environments; innovative education and assessment; and creative capital.